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Asylum seeker from Sierra Leone stole more than £180,000 in benefits while working in two jobs | Immigration Matters

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An asylum seeker benefit cheat from Sierra Leone has been jailed for fraudulently claiming more than £180,000 in benefits while holding down two jobs, the Mail reports.

Over a period of nine years Fanta Sesay falsely claimed £20,800 in income support, £121,000 in housing benefit and £38,700 in child tax credits between 2005 and her arrest in April this year.

She was not legally entitled to work, but gave a false name, National Insurance number and date of birth in order to work as a nursing assistant at Homerton Hospital and at St Thomas’ Hospital in South London, earning more than £240,000 from her employment.

The 41-year-old of Plaistow, London fraudulently claimed more than £420,000 in what Judge Lindsay Burn said was a ‘very serious fraud’ and sentenced her to 28 months jail.

At the Inner London Crown Court he said: ‘Many members of the public would be concerned that a person who was caring for them had got the job under a false identity.’

Rebecca Randall, defending Sesay, said: ‘Potentially, her life in the UK is now over.’

Sesay arrived from Sierra Leone but her application for asylum was rejected. Before immigration services were due to deport her she married a British citizen and was granted indefinite leave to remain in August 2005.

Sonal Dashani, prosecuting, said: ‘During the time up to and including August 2005, when her immigration status was pending, she was not entitled to any public funds, i.e. benefits, or to work. 

‘This is the warning given to all people entering this country.’

Despite this in January 2003 she started working at Homerton Hospital under a false name, giving a false National Insurance number and a false date of birth ‘in order that she could not be detected or the authorities would have been aware of the other income.’

Homerton failed to dedect her false name and NI number and allowed her to work with patients.

In September 2005 while still working at the hospital, she made her first claim for income support on the basis she was a single parent who was not in employment or in receipt of any other funds.

Around the same time, she made a claim for child tax credit claiming she was not working in the UK.
Ms Dashani said: ‘Given the amount of income support she was in receipt of, she would not have been entitled to tax credit.’

The flow of funds continued after she left Homerton and in August 2009 and started working at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital, again giving a variation of her name and a different National Insurance number, none of which was picked up by the employer.

Sesay admitted giving her employers false names and National Insurance numbers and pleaded guilty to two counts of dishonestly making false representations to obtain benefits in respect to council tax and housing benefit.

In addition, she admitted to being knowingly concerned with fraudulent activity, obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception and fraud by false representation.

Sentencing her to 28 months jail, Judge Burn said: ‘You obtained that money which is, quite frankly, a huge amount, by running two parallel fraudulent activities.

‘You came here from Sierra Leona and because of your immigration status you were not entitled to work and you knew that was the position.’

Ms Dashani said that the money ‘goes in and it is simply used’ while some of it went to Sierra Leone which cannot be traced.

She said: ‘Her immigration status is under review because there is a question mark over whether that was a genuine claim or not.’

This benefits farce follows an earlier this month of a Somali man Karmal Mustafa, 29, who dishonestly claimed £38,856.50 of income support, council tax and housing benefit while working over a seven-year period to support two families.

He escaped a jail term after the judge handed him a 24-week suspended sentence, ordered him to carry out 250 hours of unpaid work and pay £250 costs. Source: Daily Mail.

The problem in the UK is that government departments, such as the Home Office and National Insurance department, do not share information, which allows cheats to run rings around the system.

The Hospitals are supposed to check whether or not an employee has the right to work in the UK.

Employers, who can be fined £10,000 per illegal worker, should note that a National Insurance number does not mean a person is legally entitled to work in the UK.

Employers are still confused over the rights of Bulgarians and Romanians to work in the UK.

Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU in 2007, but unlike previous Eastern European new members its citizens do not have the same rights to work in the UK.

Even though they are EU members, when it comes to employment Bulgarian and Romanian citizens do not have the same rights as other Europeans, for instance from France, Germany, Poland, Slovakia or other A8 Accession countries.

They are free to move around Europe without a visa, but can only work in the UK as employed persons with a work permit or registration card. There are various schemes, such as the seasonal agricultural workers (SAWS) or Au Pair scheme under which Bulgarians and Romanians can apply.

Bulgarians and Romanians can set up a business, apply for a work permit, study or reside in the UK as a ‘self sufficient’ person, provided they can prove they have enough funds to support themselves.

Romanian and Bulgarians are able to exercise Article 39 Treaty rights and study vocational or sandwich-type courses, such as QCF (which replaced NVQ’s this year) in Customer Service, or Health and Social Care, which allows them to work full time – as stated on the back of their ‘Yellow’ registration cards.

Employers can legally employ Romanian and Bulgarian workers provided they have a yellow card registration certificate allowing them to work in the UK whilst studying for a British qualification.

See also:

Bulgarian family of nine target UK and get council house and benefits in 3 weeks, but is this the norm?

How Romanians and Bulgarians working illegally without Yellow Card or papers can legalise their status in the UK

France relax tax penalties for Bulgarian and Romanian workers

European Commission warning to UK on Free Movement rights and Comprehensive Sickness Insurance remains unanswered

New Government funded courses available for Bulgarian and Romanian EU students

Are Romanians and Eastern European migrants victims of racism in the UK?

If you need any immigration advice or are worried about the new immigration rules or need help with Sponsorship or Tier 2, Tier 4, applying for university if your college has closed down, Visa, ILR, Settlement, Citizenship, Dependant Visa or an appeal against a UK Border Agency or British Embassy refusal, or if you have been waiting for a reply from the Home Office for longer than a year, please email: or visit for free immigration news updates.

Majestic College offer special packages for EU students. They also have a number of employers looking for staff right now and are willing to employ Bulgarians and Romanians.

For more information call Joanna on 0208 207 1020 or email

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